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Poster: light into ashes Date: Aug 18, 2011 9:27am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Bird Song

I don't have much to say about Bird Song today - but this is a little Bird Song history I did -

I have no idea why it disappeared from Oct '71-June '72, or from Oct '73 onwards. I'm very sorry it wasn't played in those periods!

Bird Song would be an interesting song to study how they altered the jam in later years. I find the early '80s versions to be more clipped & stiff than it had been in the '70s; and there's just one middle jam rather than being extended toward the end. By the late '80s they added a new chordal ending to the jam - around '87, right? And perhaps one reason it started to sound more Dark Star-ish in the '90s was that the band used the jam as a MIDI playground with flutes, etc.

I'll quote Phil scholar Brent Wood on the 1990 Without A Net Bird Song - pardon the technical language. (He compared it to Cassidy, another song with a somewhat extended jam that brightened up '80s first sets.)

"Bird Song moves through the bright E-mixolydian with a swing feel that mutates into triplets and then into 6/8 time. These long instrumental passages, which initially sound as if they are single-chord jams, soon reveal themselves as explorations of modal possibilities...
[The jam] virtually transforms into the 6/8 riff from The Other One. The music continuously morphs through subtle rhythmic combinations on the way to this point, as there are many instances in which Lesh implies a swing feel while the drummers play triplets or move into a syncopated 6/8 feel, and vice versa. At the same time, through his choices of melodic phrasing, Lesh takes the nominally single-harmony jam into several related harmonic areas using the same set of tones. Moreover, the song’s dynamics range from whispering to thundering, indicating that by this point the band, particularly Garcia and Lesh, had overcome some of their interpersonal isolation and were listening acutely to one another. Near the end of the piece Lesh employs a familiar technique of suddenly dropping down an entire register to a low E root note on a downbeat after conditioning the listener to hearing his mid-range melodic figures, amplifying the psychological effect of this deep “bass bomb”. As the guitarists play their standard coda licks, Lesh, as always, creates a counter melody different each time through the guitar phrase, and finally climbs up to the fifth of the scale, B, to leave the song’s resolution gently suspended.
The band’s tendency to slip from their typical swinging groove into 6/8 patterns is due largely to Garcia’s predilection for triplets and Lesh’s attraction to groups of three beats. Not only do performances of Bird Song often sound as if they are going to mutate into The Other One, but also into Truckin', another of the band’s E-mixolydian jams verging on 12/8 time. Paradoxically...the group’s jams start to resemble one another more as they resemble themselves less."

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Poster: wisconsindead Date: Aug 18, 2011 12:00pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Bird Song

cool post LIA. Wish I really understood that quote.